According to the spin doctors: the government “saved the country” $1.4 billion to settle the casino deal that was signed under the previous government as part of a multi-million dollar project. Instead it only ended up costing the taxpayer $157,000. I think setting up a casino in the Dead Sea would have really transformed that area into an actual tourist destination. Not only would it see an increase in tourism but it would encourage more companies to set up, with the casino acting as prime leverage and cause for investment. There are no issues that I can think of that are credible or legitimate enough not to have such a business running in the Dead Sea. Instead the government has canceled the deal and lost money in a process that would’ve seen it earning a whole lot of cash.
Also, the settlement stipulates that the government will allow the company, Oasis, to have first dibs on any casino plans in the future, if/when the government should change its mind. In other words, if the next cabinet, 2-3 years from now decides to put the project back on the table, we will have lost several years of potential financial gains and tourism generation, not to mention having yanked a big investor around. The process will only validate a main concern for large-scale investors: the unsustainablity, unpredictability and inconsistency of governments in Jordan. Would you invest $30 million in a project that the next government could scrap half way through the groundbreaking ceremony?
It’s a shakedown.